With the Ravens aiming to win their seventh straight home opener and get off to a 2-0 start hosting Miami on Sunday afternoon, I’ve offered a dozen thoughts, each in 50 words or less:
1. By their own admission, the Ravens kept it simple and conservative on offense in the season opener, but they cannot allow the Dolphins to dictate how Sunday’s game is played like they did last year. Early creativity and aggressiveness are a must this time around, especially playing at home.
2. John Harbaugh said the Ravens “would have been negligent” had they not studied how to combat Miami’s Cover 0 that gave them fits in last year’s Week 10 loss. I’m fascinated to see the plan and how the Dolphins tweak their own approach that included blitzes on 60% of dropbacks.
3. My two biggest Lamar Jackson curiosities entering 2022 were his in-game speed upon adding weight and his adjustments to heavy blitzing after such difficulty last year. We didn’t get a definitive picture of either last week as he ran just six times and was blitzed only six times.
4. New Dolphins head coach Mike McDaniel retained defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, which speaks to how Miami’s defense played down the stretch last year. The blitzes are only part of the story with pre-snap deception at the line of scrimmage causing confusion for both the offensive line and quarterback.
5. After a promising Week 1 showing, wide receivers winning in man coverage will be critical. Jackson will need to get rid of the ball more quickly than usual, so good releases and separation will be of the utmost importance. Getting to the line of scrimmage promptly would help too.
6. There’s no understating the challenge of slowing down both Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle, especially with health concerns at cornerback. But the Ravens played a ton of two-high safety last week, which can limit Miami’s big-play potential as long as Baltimore stops the run and tackles in the open field.
7. The Miami offense uses a ton of motion and relies on timing routes for Tua Tagovailoa to get the ball out quickly. He played well against New England last week, but his arm strength doesn’t impress if you make him hold the ball or knock him off his spot.
8. After the Ravens’ interior defensive line made life miserable for Jets left guard Laken Tomlinson, it’s worth noting Miami’s Liam Eichenberg played poorly in Week 1. A second straight standout performance by Justin Madubuike would really make you believe he’s realizing that high-end potential.
9. Using Patrick Ricard extensively would help with pass protection, but the Pro Bowl fullback has been sidelined from practices with a calf injury. This also feels like an ideal matchup for Nick Boyle, so there will be even more questions in regards to his big-picture status if he’s inactive again.
10. Attention will be on Patrick Mekari likely starting at left tackle for the first time in the NFL, but the Ravens need better from Ben Powers, who struggled last week. After years of using third- and fourth-round picks, you’d like to find a left guard answer. Ben Cleveland’s on deck.
11. Patrick Queen turned in a good performance and played 100% of the snaps in the opener, but he took every defensive snap in Week 2 last year and has turned in strong games before. Week-to-week consistency is key, and he’ll again be tested in coverage by Miami’s running backs.
12. J.K. Dobbins is practicing fully and could make his 2022 debut, which would be a welcome sight after the ground game’s Week 1 performance. He’s moving much better than a month ago, but how that translates to a game will be interesting. It’s been a long road back for him.